Erin Cone - Pictures, Art, Photography Erin Cone

Erin Cone

Background Information about Erin Cone


Abstract figures in the paintings of Erin Cone

Graceful female figures displayed from the side, back, and front. Sometimes a woman’s tilted head is truncated; sometimes a shoulder disappears from the frame. The rich colors of the figures are muted by a drop of subdued background. Details are painstakingly added and yet have an abstract effect when seen as a whole.

Texan painter Erin Cone is a multi-award-winning artist who has achieved success in various solo and group exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Europe. Her career began in 2001 at her debut solo exhibition in an Austin, Texas gallery. At the time, she was still considered an insider’s secret. Since then, she has twice been named a Top Emerging Artist and has appeared numerous times in notable art magazines. American Art Collector Magazine, Southwest Art Magazine and others have already selected Cone's work for their covers. Today she is an established figure in the art world and her work has found its way into collections all over the world. Critics are continuously fascinated by her unique interpretation of traditional figurative art, as well as her subtle play with realist form. Cone masterfully employs light/dark contrasts, limited color spectrums, and the contrast between detailed renderings and graphic stylization.

The methods Erin Cone use to achieve this result are very complex. In seeking her motif, she makes sketches of poses, gestures, and details. These then become the basis for photographs (generally of herself, but sometimes of models as well). The final search for composition occurs intuitively. Through experimentation, Erin Cone finds the right combination of individual elements. “It’s more about the visual effect than the story content, that’s why I concentrate on the subtle placement of the subjects within the frame,” said  Erin Cone, describing her experiences. “I intentionally create a tension between near photographic detail and my own vocabulary of visual disturbance, subverting realism. This duality is central to my work and allows the figures I paint to be both concrete and abstract – calling forth emotion without pinning the emotion down.”

Once the composition has been determined, Cone otherwise continues very traditionally: sketches on the canvas, filled with layers of color, in some cases allowing for changes during the painting process. The result is such impressive pictures as Allure, the abstract-realist portrait/non-portrait of a young woman in a red dress: a formally elegant equilibrium of rigidity and tense movement; a successful mélange of abstract minimalism and figurative realism.

Geraldine Blum


Born in Lubbock, Texas, USA
Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
Lives and works in Santa Fe, USA


Department of Cultural Affairs/New Mexico Arts Permanent Collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Washington, D.C.
The Tullman Collection, Chicago, Illinois
Standard Chartered Bank, London, UK


2020Time & Tide, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
2018Boundless, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
2017Stages of Believing, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
2016Wish Fulfillment, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
2015Ineffable, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
2015Emergence, Hespe Gallery, San Francisco, USA
2014Modiste, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
2013Desiderata, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
2012Theory of Forms, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
2012Ingenue, Hespe Gallery, San Francisco USA
2011Denouement, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
2010Passages, Hespe Gallery, San Francisco, USA
2009Blessed Unrest, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
2008Possible Outcomes, Hespe Gallery, San Francisco,USA
2008Departure, Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, USA
2007Synchronicity, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
2006Secrets, Hespe Gallery, San Francisco, USA
20053, Andreeva Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
2005Erin Cone: 5th Annual Show, Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, USA
2004Transformation, Seven-o-seven Contemporary, Santa Fe, USA
2004Interval, Wally Workman Gallery, Austin, USA
2003Configuration, Seven-o-seven Contemporary, Santa Fe, USA
2021Caesura, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
2019Figurations 2019, Nüart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexiko, USA
2018New New Real II, Tinney Contemporary, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
201320th Anniversary Exhibition, Hespe Gallery, San Francisco, USA
2012Distilled Memory, Decorazon Gallery, London, UK
2011In Portrait, Blank Space Gallery, New York City, USA
2010Gallery Artists, Rosenbaum Contemporary, Boca Raton, USA
2009Artist’s Choice, Principle Gallery, Alexandria, USA
2008Inaugural Exhibit, MMFA, Palm Desert, USA
20079th Annual Realism Invitational, Jenkins-Johnson Gallery, New York City, USA
2006Small Works, Principle Gallery, Alexandria, USA
2005Self Portraits by Contemporary Masters, Andreeva Gallery, Santa Fe, USA


Picasso once said, “you don’t make art, you find it.” Where do you find your art?
My focus is on the ideal rather than on strict realism and I find glimpses of this ideal in the way I view the world, distilling and refining what I see around me. Often one certain element of a work of art will spark an idea or I’ll notice a particular moment with total clarity – like the way the negative space operates around a sculpture or the empty stage around a dancer. With this view, I find inspiration everywhere: design, fashion, cinema, nature, even just people-watching. By knowing what motivates me, and staying true to my vision, I find there is much to inspire me.   

From an idea to its materialization: How do you approach your work?

I generally begin a new body of work without any premeditated agenda, instead simply letting things evolve and painting what interests me most at the moment. I begin with sketches of poses, gestures, and ideas which I then use as the basis for a photoshoot - most often photographing myself (or a model when I can find one). Then I work and rework these photos in the computer, essentially creating digital studies before I begin the actual painting.
As I compose my pieces, I always feel there is one arrangement of form and space that is right - and finding it is a very intuitive process. When I've got it, it's like the solution to a puzzle.  My goal is to arrive at a composition which has an inherent abstract strength that enhances the representational content while functioning independently of it.
Once I find the visual solution I’m looking for, I proceed very traditionally – making a detailed under-drawing on the canvas which I slowly flesh-out with repeated layers of painting and glazing. As I paint, I allow for the piece to alter from what I originally planned – working with the unexpected to enhance my expression and learn something new.

Which artist would you like to have coffee with and what would you discuss?
Georgia O’Keefe is an early inspiration, both for her art and for her life. Her ability to paint in a wholly realistic manner while achieving gorgeous abstract compositions has heavily influenced my work. And, of course, she was one of the first female artists in America to really make an impact in the male-dominated art world and she did it while being so true to her own vision. She inspires me on several levels.

How did you get into art?
I always wanted to be an artist—from the time I was a little girl—and I always drew and painted throughout my childhood. I graduated college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting but didn’t believe it was possible to make a living as an artist, so I worked for a couple of years in graphic design before deciding at the age of 24 to take the leap and paint full-time.

Who are the people in your surroundings that influence you?

I find that for me the trick is to try not to be influenced. I try to follow the advice of one of my favorite Georgia O-Keefe quotes: “Look with your own eye – feel your own things with your own heart – in your own way – and get it down.”

What are you working on right now?

I’m painting a new body of work for an upcoming show, continuing my exploration of the female form in designed/refined abstract space. With this new series, I’m especially interested in the idea of the pause that exists before action and decision – the moment of pure potential in which all is possible. The concept is evolving as I work and I’m excited to see where it leads.